CVU outlasts Burlington in matchbreaker to seize boys tennis title

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Cheering fans lined opposite sides of the fence. The lights flicked on as dusk turned to dark at Leddy Park.

The stage was set. The Division I high school boys tennis championship would be settled with the only match still in play: Champlain Valley’s Ben Sampson vs. Burlington’s Theodore Schulman.

And the No. 5 singles players did not disappoint.

In an entertaining, back-and-forth battle that required a 10-point matchbreaker in the third set, Sampson prevailed to lift the No. 6 Redhawks a 4-3 win over the top-seeded Seahorses on Thursday during a championship that lasted for 3 hours, 45 minutes.

Also rallying on the road to beat Stowe in the semifinals, CVU (13-4) captured its first title in 21 years.

“It’s a long time coming to win it,” longtime CVU coach Frank Babbott said. “All and all, they did what I knew they were capable of doing.”

CVU captain Henry Bijur reaches out for the ball during the Redhawks' dramatic 4-3 win over Burlington to claim the 2021 D1 State Championship on Thursday afternoon.

After losing the first set to Schulman, Sampson forced the matchbreaker by surviving two match points in the second-set tiebreaker. Sampson opened a 7-3 lead in the matchbreaker but Schulman stormed back to tie at 8.

More:Schedule, matchups set for Vermont’s spring high school title games. What you need to know

Sampson used a lob shot to gain a 9-8 edge and then won it with a overhanded shot down the middle to set off a court-storming by teammates and fans. Sampson defeated Schulman, part of Burlington’s doubles state championship team at the individual tournament last month, 2-6, 7-6, 10-8.



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